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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Questions over whether public money was misused has left Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin under fire in recent weeks. Now, police are considering getting involved.
Louisville Metro Police Department's public integrity unit is weighing whether to launch an investigation into Shanklin.
LMPD has been working with the city auditor for about three weeks. As portions of a city audit are complete, the auditor is sharing that information with police, according to Alicia Smiley, an LMPD spokeswoman.
Shanklin has been under fire in recent months for her handling of public money and her grandson, who while on the city's payroll as her legislative aide, how a lengthy rap sheet and outstanding criminal warrants. Shanklin later fired her grandson, Gary Bohler.
She defended her actions Tuesday in an interview with WDRB News.
"Nobody has contacted me about any wrongdoing," Shanklin told WDRB News' Bennett Haeberle in a phone interview. I welcome (the investigation) and I ain't got no problem with (police)" looking into the matter, she said.
"I welcome it and any
Shanklin has come under scrutiny because of her participation in a tax-funded upholstery program that city financial records show benefited the councilwoman and her family.
"I did everything right. And the program ran for four years and they didn't find anything wrong. Where was the oversight over the program the first four years?" Shanklin, D - Council District 2, said during the interview Tuesday. "I stand by what I said and I welcome any investigation to clear my name."
Jerry Miller, R - Council District 18, is the head of the Metro Council's government accountability committee. Last week, fellow council member Brent Ackerson asked that Shanklin be investigated by Miller's committee.
Miller declined, citing the ongoing audit. He told WDRB News Tuesday that he think more scrutiny is needed for the council members' discretionary funds.
"There is a belief in some quarters that 'that's my money and I'll do with it what I want,' I think that's the wrong view," Miller said.
Even before Tuesday's interview with WDRB News, Shanklin has fired back against critics, defending herself and a the work she did re-covering a couch for a friend during her participation in the program. For five years – from 2007 to 2011 – Shanklin oversaw an upholstery program that was initially designed to help ex-convicts learn a skill. Money for the project came from tax dollars and was funneled through Metro Corrections.
Invoices obtained by WDRB News showed more than $30,000 in tax money was spent on the program that Shanklin says was later changed for more public use.
"No one from my family benefited from this program," said Shanklin.
But she admitted her friends and relatives took part in the class, which she claims was more for public use than training ex-cons. Shanklin also said she never told her fellow Metro Council members about the change in program's focus.
"It never came back up in Metro Council so in the budget, it just rolled over," Shanklin said.
In a letter dated from November 2011, Corrections director Mark Bolton wrote the instructor, Linda Haywood, telling her "I find the program has not served a viable or sizeable number of clientele. In fact, most of the records that you have provided indicate only one or two people in the attendance per session."